Large, white, igloo-shaped building is dusted with snow.
The Igloo as it appeared in the late 1990s. It looks worse now.

Igloo City: Giant Igloo-Shaped Building

Field review by the editors.

Cantwell, Alaska

Everyone has a dream. For Leon Smith (1921-1999) it was to build a giant igloo in Alaska and open it as a resort motel.

Leon began in 1971 and hoped to be open for business in July 1973. The building was to have 58 wedge-shaped rooms opening on a three-story atrium. The fourth floor was to be the private penthouse of Leon and his wife Lucille. Leon called the building -- 80 feet high and 105 feet wide -- "Igloo Lodge." Locals joked that it was the only igloo in Alaska that could be seen year-round.

Leon finished the exterior -- plywood covered with snow-colored urethane insulation -- and then stopped. No one really knows why. His dreaming, however, didn't stop. Leon held onto the Igloo for decades. It was renamed "Igloo City" as plans for the resort grew more grandiose, while Leon ran a gas station on the property.

Age finally caught up to Leon in 1996. He sold everything to another dreamer, Brad Fisher. Three years later, Leon died. Brad held on for another 11 years, then closed the gas station in 2010 and put the Igloo on the market, where it's been ever since.

Over the years people have forgotten the Igloo Lodge name -- but after 50 years of Alaska weather the Igloo is still standing, and still empty.

Igloo City: Giant Igloo-Shaped Building

Address:
George Parks Hwy, Cantwell, AK
Directions:
On the east side of Hwy 3/George Parks Hwy at milepost 188.5.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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